Do Try: Trucker Rösti in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

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First, a fun fact: I’m only about a month away from my four-year anniversary of leaving my permanent address in Denver behind for a life of full-time travel.

In those nearly four years, I’ve taken my dog to 16 countries, learned to love myselfdropped two dress sizes, written seven travel guides, and spent two years as an official expat in Switzerland.

Switzerland captured my heart for a lot of reasons, mostly having to do with nature (the valley I lived in had 72 waterfalls…enough said, right?).

And when it comes to food, I had a few distinct favorites there, including the Trucker Rösti at the Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen.

Drenched in cheese and tomato sauce and ham, this twist on the classic Swiss rösti (which is essentially hash browns) is one of the top three things I ate during my years in Switzerland. I usually had mine with a glass of Merlot and since Swiss restaurants are rather pricey, this was a special occasion treat (usually eaten after an epic hike).


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The Beginner’s Guide to German Sausage

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Originally published at gigigriffis.com.

When my electronic informational tour took me into the heart of Freiburg’s morning market, I was instructed (by said same informational tour) to buy myself a rote – a tangy, red sausage beloved by the locals. And from the moment that first bite passed my lips, I’ve had a passion – nay, obsession – with German sausage. Because, dear god, much like the cracked pepper steak at Denver’s Bistro Vendome, if I had to choose between a man and the red rote, I’m sorry boys, I’d pick the rote.

Sexy red rote
The sexy red rote in question.

Of course, after my first passionate encounter with German sausage, I had to have more. (Once you go German, apparently, you never go back.)

The next chance I got, I headed back to the morning market and bought myself a Currywurst.

Currywurst
Strong, ketchup-y currywurst.

Currywurst is a slightly milder sausage made from pork and doused in a kind of curry-ketchup. I have no idea if this is what the vendor intended when she handed me a bread roll, but in my personal opinion, the currywurst is best devoured as a sandwich. A tasty, tasty sandwich that might make you sneeze due to spice overload.

A couple days later, I was back again. This time it was the weekend and the market was packed with locals, mostly congregating around one particular sausage seller (pro tip: buy from the same vendor the locals do). That’s the day I bought two sausages. (I know. Now I’m just being greedy.) The first: a hearty Rhine Rinderwurst (which was, unfortunately, purchased before I saw where the locals were congregating).

Wurst Basically, a fancy hot dog.

Rhine Rinderwurst is the first German sausage that tasted familiar to me: a little like a hot dog with a majorly chewy outside and a slightly richer flavor. I’ll confess that my love for German sausages started to wane a little, as I have little love for the American hot dog. But that was before I tried my second sausage of the day: the smoky, serious Bockwurst.

One phallus to rule them allSo many phallic jokes to choose from, so little time before I devour this sausage.

Stuffed with paprika, pepper, and, of course, salt, this Bockwurst tasted smoky and strong, rekindling my passion for sausages from bite one (though, still, the rote is my first love).

Whew. That was a lot of sausage. [Insert innuendo here.] And there’s plenty more where that came from, according to Wikipedia. So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself to the Freiburg market. And if you only make passionate devouring love to one German sausage, make sure it’s the red rote. Tell it I sent you.

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How to Make Real Hungarian Goulash

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One night when I was living in Switzerland, one of my Hungarian friends—a lovely 20-something international relations major named Lilla who was studying remotely while working in the Alps—was kind enough to come over to my apartment and make us a big pot of real Hungarian goulash. Just like mama used to make, she said.

When I started this blog, I went over my favorite and most memorable meals from the past couple years and Lilla’s goulash was one of them. So I asked her if she’d share the recipe and I thought I’d pass it along to you.

She says that this recipe (which is conveniently already in English) is very, very close to hers, but we should add 1 – 1.5 deciliters (about half a cup – just under or just over is fine) of red wine.

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Travel & Foodie Gems From Around the World—In Your Mailbox

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So, you know those subscription boxes that have been getting so popular? The ones where every month or every quarter a package arrives full of cute stuff for your dog or your kitchen or your bookshelf? Stuff you probably wouldn’t have found on your own, but that delights the dog-lover or gourmet chef or avid reader in you?

Well, there’s a new box in town.

This one for lovers of world travel.

Curated by yours truly and only open to a handful of subscribers.

That’s right, for the rest of 2016, I’ll be putting together three quarterly boxes full of little gems I find during my travels, as well as a personal letter explaining why I chose those things and maybe a few coupons or freebies for experiences—like food tours, hotel stays, zip lines, cooking classes—around the world.

What kinds of things will you find in the boxes?

Every box will be custom-curated based on where I’m traveling and what I find along the way that quarter (and thus every quarter will be very, very different). That said, some things that I’ve found and gifted to people in the past include:

:: Chocolate-covered spices from Paris
:: Local postcards, both stunning and quirky
:: Handmade soaps from Croatian, Parisian, or Spanish markets
:: Specialty jams made with flowers in France
:: Quirky journals from Toledo, Spain
:: Excellent airplane books
:: Good bottles of French wine
:: Real Swiss chocolates

PLUS, every box will contain:

:: A letter from me about how I stumbled upon its contents and why I chose them
:: Bonuses like coupons for discounted hotel stays, food tours, or restaurants around the world

And perhaps a monkey named Justin Bieber.

Monkey time

Okay. Just kidding about the monkey part.

As you can see, the boxes aren’t 100% foodie delights, but it’s my plan to include some along the way.

So, now, the boxes themselves. You’ve got two options:

The Basic Travel Box

Every quarter, I’ll send you a small box of hand-picked local gems for travel-lovers from wherever I’m traveling. Think of it as a quarterly care package from your crazy always-traveling friend.

Quarterly cost: $55 (that’s only about $19 per month)

2016 (three box) cost: $165

Sign up now for 2016

The Bigger Better Travel Box

Filled to the brim, the Bigger Better Travel Box is twice the spices, wines, postcards, and travel goodies every quarter.

Quarterly cost: $99 (that’s $33 per month)

2016 (three box) cost: $297

Sign up now for 2016

I’m only taking 10 people and registration for the first quarterly box ends on April 30. Currently, this is only open to residents of the US and Canada (though I may expand if things go well, so stay tuned if you’re outside North America). The first set of packages will ship out this June.

Paris mailings

Ready to sign up and get a quarterly box from your world-traveling friend?

Again, I’m only taking on 10 boxes this year and registration for the first quarter ends April 30. So, click the pink buttons below to sign up now and get in early!



Sign Up Now:

       

2016 Basic Travel Box         2016 Bigger Better Travel Box



Not ready to commit to all three 2016 boxes? Sign up for just the first quarter and give it a test run:

One-Time Basic Travel Box         One-Time Bigger Better Travel Box


Questions? Special requests? Trouble signing up? Leave a comment on the original post at gigigriffis.com or here and I’ll get back to you asap.

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Homemade Dog Food On the Road

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I’ve been traveling full-time for nearly four years now (my four year anniversary is only a couple weeks away) and the whole time I’ve been on the road, my pint-sized, trusty pooch has been by my side. She’s gone running down Mexican beaches and slept under my chair in French cafes. She’s slept through probably over a hundred train, plane, or bus rides. She’s biked across France and walked to the top of several Swiss Alps. And in all she’s been to something like 16 countries in the process.

Luna biking across France

One of the most common questions I get when I mention that I travel with my dog is this:

How do you find dog food on the road?

The simple answer? I make it.

When I first started traveling, I bought and carried dog food, but Luna has a lot of allergies, some of which are food related, and after trying everything I could think of to eliminate them, I decided the only way forward was to start making her food from scratch.

So I spoke to my vet in Switzerland and we came up with a plan. We started with a few simple ingredients and slowly began adding more things and trying other ingredients to see what she had allergic reactions to and what she didn’t.

Very quickly I discovered that she’s allergic to chicken (and eggs) and grains and that she does really well with things like fish and lean ground beef.

And so the basic recipe I follow on the road, honed over many attempts to find things she likes and is not allergic to, is this:

Luna’s Road Trip Dog Food
Rice
Ground beef or tuna (depending what is easily available and affordable in whatever country we’re in)
Veggies (carrots, red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and other veggies that are okay for dogs, depending on what is available where we are)
Pumpkin (when available)

It’s important to note that if I’m switching Luna from tuna to beef (or vice versa), I do so slowly, adding a little beef to the normal tuna meal and increasing beef and decreasing tuna over the course of a week or so. It’s also important to note that the reason I include pumpkin when I can is that it helps keep dogs digestively regular.

Finally, if you decide to make your dog’s food at any point, check in with your vet about portions and nutritional requirements. Luna’s diet is one I’ve worked on with my own vet, but I’m sure there are different recommendations for different dogs.

Luna in Spain

P.S. You can follow Luna’s adventures over at my travel blog if you’re so inclined.

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Tomato, Basil, & Mozzarella Open-Faced Sandwiches

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My summer lunches are often simple. Avocado and lemon juice spread on toast. Giant fruit smoothies. Cheese and crackers. And, often, tomato, basil, and mozzarella on toast.

In Switzerland last year, this is something I often made since there was fresh basil growing on our windowsill and the local farmer’s market carried some really epic tomatoes. It’s quick, simple, and delicious and the key to it is really ripe tomatoes. If you have really ripe tomatoes, it’ll taste amazing. If you don’t, it will be mediocre at best. So I suggest making this during tomato season and grabbing some tomatoes from your local farmer’s market.

Once you have those, just toast some fresh bread, add a couple tomato slices (enough to cover the open-faced sandwich), slip some fresh basil leaves on top, and then top with slices of fresh mozzarella. Enjoy in the sunshine.

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